This is the key question you have to be really clear about as it will shape and frame your entire project. (It’s actually two connected questions).

There is a difference between business objectives and research objectives. To get to research objectives, you have to ask

  •  What decisions have to be made in order to achieve the business objective?
  •  What types of information will be useful to support those decisions?

And then you will get to higher level objectives, that don’t really translate into questions you could ask of a respondent. To get to those, you will need to consider the research issue from a number of different perspectives.
 What is the relevant behaviour and what drives it?
 Is it rational, emotional, social or cultural?
 How habitual is it? How could it be changed?
 What is the context for the behaviour?
 What conscious and unconscious cues might affect it?
 What cognitive biases might be in operation?
 What is the competitive context? What alternatives are there?
 What are the needs and ambitions, personal and social?
 What are their fears and anxieties – what pushes them away?
 What are their beliefs and understanding about the product area, your organisation / product / service? What are these founded on? What is accurate and what is hearsay or myth?
 What sources of information do people have – formal and informal?
 How trustworthy or influential are they? In what ways?
 How does your offer map out in terms of rewards/gains versus effort/ drawbacks/ potential losses? This would include pricing and value for money, if relevant.
 What in your offer are people drawn to and why? What are the emotional benefits or consequences of what you are proposing?
 How much do they believe what you are saying?
 How do you best communicate with them – what channels, what strategies? How do you best engage?
 What are the longer term implications for the organisation or brand?


For more information on how to move on from the business or research question download: How to get from business objectives to research questions